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 Let’s talk about bullying and self harm on Bell Let’s Talk day. Whatever crap you’re facing, there are people who love you and want to help.

Let’s Talk Day 2016 got me thinking about Erin Farkas (no relation). Erin is smart, articulate 20-something young who broke the stigma around bullying and self harm a few years ago. 

In 2014, Erin posted a Youtube video about her struggles with bullying and self harm. Erin was bullied relentlessly throughout her school years. Glasses and braces made Erin an easy target. Teasing quickly became bullying about her choice of clothing or how she’d talk or walk. Every year the bullying worsened. Erin became anxious and depressed because some vicious kids thought they could say or do whatever they wanted to and get away with it. 

“It’s taken me a long time to get the courage to do this, but knowing how much this may help people makes it worth it” ~ Erin Farkas

Things got so bad for Erin, she started cutting herself. She hid her cuts and scars, and pretended that things were okay with her. No one knew Erin was self harming or noticed the cuts on her arms. Erin had simply become this quiet, withdrawn girl.

That’s what everyone thought, except Erin’s mother, who suspected something was bothering Erin. One day her mother walked in on Erin just as Erin was cutting herself. Instead of freaking out, Erin’s mother stayed calm and talked with her daughter. It was the moment that changed everything for Erin. 

Self harm isn’t suicidal behaviour but if the emotional distress that’s causing the self harm continues, then that can cause suicidal thoughts. I wrote about self injury and what parents and guardians need to do last year. The most important thing to do is to talk non-judgementally with your child.

How you first react to your child self harming sets the stage for how your child will feel about talking with you.

Stay calm.

Take the problem seriously.

Ask if you’re part of the problem.

Try to find the triggers.

Your child is still the same person you always loved. Trust him or her. Treat your child with as much love and respect as you did before.

Treatment takes a long time and there will be setbacks. Especially if you can’t control the triggers, such as bullies. So be prepared for the long haul. And always be ready to talk openly and non-judgmentally with your child about self harm!

Erin is grateful her mother found out because it was the start of Erin getting help. Every situation is different. But whatever crap you’re facing, there are people who love you and want to help. You won’t stop self harming in one day. You take it one day at a time. 

As Erin says, “You’ll appreciate things that others don’t. You’ll look at the world differently.” You’ll also learn not to be ashamed or embarrassed because once you’ve gone through the darkness, nothing can ever hurt you again so badly.

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Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

* Click here to find out more about Terezia Farkas and Depression Help Free.

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